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Maema: No Tension Between Me And Mokwena

  • May 29, 2024
  • 2 min read
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Maema: No Tension Between Me And Mokwena

Mamelodi Sundowns midfielder Neo Maema quashed rumors of tension with coach Rulani Mokwena, attributing his lack of playing time to increased competition within the star-studded squad.

Maema, a key player last season, was surprisingly left out of the matchday squad for nine consecutive league games between December and March. Since joining Sundowns in July 2021, he’s made 17 DStv Premiership appearances this season, starting eight and coming off the bench in eight others. He was an unused substitute in the recent 0-0 draw against Golden Arrows.

The Bloemfontein-born left-footer acknowledged the challenges of playing for a top club: “There’s fierce competition at a big club, and that’s what you face when you come to a big team.”

Despite limited playing time, the 28-year-old found positives in the experience: “It makes you stronger, not just as a footballer but as a person. You grow from it, and I took it in stride.”

Maema strongly denied a rift with his coach, emphasizing team unity and support for those starting. He also admitted to a slight dip in form: “There were rumors about tension between me and the coach, but there’s nothing to it. I was just trying to compete, but I wasn’t in top form, that’s no secret.”

“I’ve been working on getting my performance back up to par. Credit goes to the players who have been performing well. I’ve been supporting them and being a good teammate. That’s what happens at a big club. The season has its ups and downs, and you won’t always be happy with your performances. You’ll have bad days, but that doesn’t mean I’m a bad player,” he added.

Across all competitions, including the inaugural African Football League, Maema has started 14 of his 28 appearances, contributing one goal and two assists for the Brazilians. This falls short of his 2022/23 season where he managed seven goals and five assists.

The talented midfielder hopes to end the season on a high note as Sundowns chase their third trophy of the campaign in the Nedbank Cup final against defending champions Orlando Pirates at a sold-out Mbombela Stadium on Saturday.

Article by Trevor Magoro

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